Fake Laugh is the solo project of Kamran Khan. He’s now got his self-titled debut out which is an incredibly joyful and romantic listen. We had a chat with ahead of his UK tour to speak about the beginnings of Fake Laugh, the new album as well as his relationship with our seaside city.
How are you? Where are you at the moment?
I’m currently in my room in New Cross in South London.
Are you still juggling things between London and Berlin?
Yeah, I’m still going to continue that juggling, I’m here for the rest of the summer.
What do you feel the contrast is between being a musician in London as opposed to Berlin?
I think it’s a fairly considerable contrast because I’ve got different things going on in each place. I’m over here primarily because I’m playing as a touring musician for The Japanese House, I used to play for Oscar as well. When I moved back to Berlin that coincided with me stopping doing that.
So is the focus on you as Fake Laugh now?
Well as I say I’m also playing for The Japanese House, that’s my job, I’m probably more busy with that.
You’re quite familiar with Brighton, aren’t a few members of your band from here?
I grew up in Burgess Hill so I used to spend quite a bit of time in Brighton playing with my old band. Our bass player is from Brighton and the others are from the surrounding area so we’re pretty Brighton-centric. I spent my first six years in Berlin and then moved to Burgess Hill so really not far from Brighton. I grew up there from the age of 6 to 18 and then went to uni in London. In my mid-to-late teens I started going to gigs in Brighton. We started playing youth centre gigs in the Sussex area with my old band. Playing in Brighton was the first step towards playing something more grown-up gig-wise. We liked The [Prince] Albert a lot. I do really like The Albert, I haven’t played a show there in many years but I’ve got fond memories of it.
You have a few ties with Brighton like working with Theo Verney. What was it that drew you to him as a producer?
We did a single, two EPs and the album together. It’s been a very long-term relationship. Theo was at our first ever gig which was actually in Brighton supporting Parquet Courts, which is a really cool first gig to have. A friend of mine Liam Carrol, who runs Teen Creeps, were putting on Parquet Courts’ first Brighton show, it was the first time they came to the UK and I asked my mate if they had any gigs going and he said “I may have this for you”. It turned out to be Parquet Courts. Theo was at that gig, so he’s kind of been into Fake Laugh since day one. We did some band recordings with him in 2013 and then I worked by myself for the next couple of years and then ended up hooking up with him about two years ago. It was a very different thing when we recorded with him before because we just played as a live band and did four songs in one day, so there wasn’t really that much time to get into anything. Theo, he’s a friend of mine and I liked the stuff he had been putting out. At the time I was pretty happy doing stuff in my bedroom but then I suppose he was the only other person I worked with properly, so as soon as the idea of doing things a bit more properly was established, I just thought of Theo.
What records would you say inspired your sound as Fake Laugh when you were recording the album?
The newest track on the album is still quite old, most of the songs were written between 2013 and 2015. I guess stuff I was listening to then, the band I always bang on about is Broadcast, they’re amazing. I like a lot of 80s jangly guitar music, I’m a big fan of The Smiths and some R.E.M. stuff, that sort of thing. I grew up listening to The Smiths, I made a point of learning as many of their guitar parts as I could so I think his [Johnny Marr’s] style has always very much stayed with me.
The new album is out next week, I’ve listened to it a few times and I’ve been hooked. How would you describe the album?
I guess maybe… breezy but also kind of intense. Thinking about it, the album’s quite emotional but also has quite a light hearted feel to it. A lot of the music I like juggles that light and shade. It’s a balance between dark and light.
There’s a reasonable contrast between your album and your Ice EP.
‘Ice’ is also another old song, it was intended to be the sort of fuzzy rock EP. I had a selection of a few songs that had more of a fuzz rock sound and that was a good opportunity to get that out of my system. It’s a bit funny with the EP’s and the album it’s almost a muddle of time because a lot of the songs on previous EP’s are newer than the album because I wanted to save back some of the old tracks for the album.
What current bands are you liking? You seem to have a lot of love for Girl Ray and Marika Hackman, who else are you enjoying at the moment?
I think actually in London there is a lot of really great bands, as you mentioned Girl Ray. We have the same manager and before that I was into their music. Their album’s coming out in a couple of weeks, they’re a band I really admire.
You’ve used Soundcloud a lot as a platform for your music, how do you feel about the recent news of its financial stability?
I’ve heard that Soundcloud may not be a thing in a few months time. I’d been talking to my housemate about it, he makes electronic dance music. It’s pretty weird because it’s been the go-to. These things come and go and I don’t think it’ll make much of a difference in terms of people getting their music out there but, at the same time, maybe it will. From my personal experience, I’ve been uploading music there for about seven years now and it’s a really useable thing in terms of sharing music. If you want to be able to send someone a private link of something it’s been the go-to to do that. I had a month’s phase of using Soundcloud while I was in Berlin, I discovered so much good music. I guess there will always be a new thing but I think Soundcloud has been a big thing for a lot of people.